New AI tool asks Instagram bullies to reconsider their posts

Posted on July 12, 2019

 

Instagram has introduced a new feature that detects potential bullying posts, and asks the user if they are sure they want to send them.

The photo-centric social media site announced the introduction of the feature in a blog post earlier this week, admitting it “can do more” to prevent cyberbullying on the platform.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), the feature works under the belief that social media users sometimes insult and bully one other without truly thinking their actions through, and that if they are prompted to stop and think about what they are about to say, they may decide against it.

In an example on the blog post, a user posts the comment “you are so ugly and stupid”. After the user clicks ‘Post’, they are asked “Are you sure you want to post this?” and given an ‘Undo’ option. There is also a ‘Learn more’ link, which explains that the site is asking people to rethink comments like theirs.

The potential bully can still go ahead and post the comment if they wish, but Instagram says that in early testing, some users have retracted their posts or reworded them to be less hurtful.

In addition to this, the site also says it is introducing a ‘Restrict’ tool, which will allow victims of bullying to filter out comments from an abusive user. The bully will not be aware of being restricted themselves and will be able to see their own comments, but the person applying the restriction will not.

The move has been welcomed by Alex Holmes, who is deputy CEO of The Diana Award and an anti-bullying campaigner. He has also called for all under-18s to be given “awareness building” upon signing up with a social media site.

Instagram is far from the only site to have issues with bullying, but it has found itself particularly in the spotlight of late. It was criticised following the 2017 suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who had used it to post content about depression. In a study conducted the same year, Instagram was also named the social media site on which the highest percentage of young people said they had been the victim of bullying.

On Facebook, which owns Instagram, bullying and harassment is often carried out through fake accounts, sometimes impersonating another person. Don’t forget, we have an eBook that can guide you through tracing any bogus account that may be affecting you or someone close to you.

John Murray

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